Flight of Nostalgia: Breitling Navitimer American Airlines Edition

Breitling kicked off its recent spate of “capsule collections” in 2019 with a series of Navitimer models paying tribute to, and bearing the classic colors of, three fondly remembered airlines associated with the so-called Golden Age of commercial aviation: Swissair, Pan Am and TWA. This year, the brand adds another legendary carrier to its fleet with the launch of the Navitimer American Airlines Edition.

The recognizable red-white-and-blue livery of American Airlines, which was founded in 1930 on the consolidation of 82 smaller carriers and today stands as the world’s largest airline by fleet size, adds a dash of retro cool to the classical dial of the Navitimer, one of the most world’s iconic pilots’ chronographs since its debut in 1952. The particular inspiration for this latest re-imagination of the Navitimer appears to be the minimalist graphics and logo forms used by American Airlines in the 1960s and 1970s.

The 43-mm stainless steel case features the Navitimer’s emblematic bidirectional circular slide-rule bezel, an innovation that allowed pilots in the ’50s to make crucial flight calculations on their watches, essentially serving as wrist-borne onboard computers in those early days of commercial flight. A curved sapphire crystal covers the three-register dial in bright blue, with contrasting white subdials for 30 chronograph minutes, 12 chronograph hours, and 60 running seconds at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, respectively, along with a date window at 4:30. The central chronograph seconds hand, subdial hands for the counters, and the central hour and minute hands are detailed in red. Together with blue, white, and red elements on the peripheral slide rule scales, the dial’s combination of elements evokes the color scheme of America Airlines’ famous eagle logo.

Like its predecessors in the capsule collection, the America Airlines Edition has a sapphire exhibition caseback etched with a vintage logo. Behind it beats Breitling’s in-house Caliber B01, renowned for its integrated 1/4-second chronograph function driven by a column wheel, its substantial 70-hour power reserve, and its timekeeping accuracy, as attested to by its COSC chronometer certification. The automatic movement has a bidirectional rotor and a brisk balance frequency of 28,800 vph.

Breitling is offering the Navitimer American Airlines Edition on both a brown calfksin leather strap with a steel tang buckle and a stainless steel Milanese-style mesh bracelet. The former model is limited to 75 pieces, priced at $8,650; the latter is limited to only 25 pieces, priced at $9,350. All 100 pieces will be sold exclusively in the United States.

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